Shock close tough week with two wins

ShockSparks2TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Shock suffered through a lot this past week, but they managed to close it out with two big wins and keep themselves in the hunt in the WNBA West.

Sunday night the Shock started out cold against the Los Angeles Sparks, but a one point deficit at the end of the first quarter was quickly overcome by the Shock and with the help of a newly healthy teammate’s return, the Shock rallied to top the Sparks 82-67.

The newly healthy teammate in question was of course, Odyssey Sims.

ShockSparksSims missed the last ten games due to a leg injury, and when she entered the game with a little under five minutes remaining in the first quarter her impact, both on the scoresheet and psychologically, was immediately evident. It also drew loud cheers from the home crowd in the BOK Center.

In the end, Sims scored 14 points, had 6 assists, and 2 steals. Before her injury she averaged 17.3 points per game and 4.6 assists per game.

“It feels great,” Sims said after the game, “I’m just happy to be playing again. I played as much as I could and did what I could to help my team.”

Karima Christmas scored a career high 24 points and went 11-12 from the free throw line. Vicki Baugh tied her career high with 10 points as well. Defensively, the team was a little loose but only wound up turning the ball over five times and only once in the first half.

Nneka Ogwumike scored 22 points and had 13 rebounds in the game, pacing the Sparks for her fifth double-double of the season.. She averages 18.0 ppg. and 11.3 rpg. through seven games this season. Two Sparks players scored in double figures for the game – Ogwumike with 22 and Lavender with 14.

The best part of the game was that the Shock did not quit when they got behind early on in the game, a situation that the previous Tulsa Shock teams have had trouble with. Head coach Fred Williams had a clear plan for his team and they executed his plan fairly well.

ShockSparks1“One of things I told the team was to get to the free throw line, keep going to the basket.” Williams said, “We played through some things. What we didn’t get what we needed when we were going to the basket, we had to settle with some short jumpers from the outside.

“It was good to have Odyssey Sims back, who is a strong leader for us. I thought Kiesel still played very well for us as at the point. Our ladies are still growing, still learning. Defensively we still need to turn it up a notch we gave too many points in the paint, and LA does a good job with pick and roll schemes and we just got to figure those out the next time we play them and defend it a little bit better.”

Road Recap

The win over Los Angeles was the Shock’s sixth straight win in the BOK Center. The six-game home winning streak is the Shock’s first since the franchise relocated to Tulsa. The last time the franchise won five straight home games was in 2009 when the Detroit Shock reeled off eight straight home wins.

On June 28th, with less than a minute remaining in a tight game with Seattle, Shock fans in the BOK Center saw their worst nightmare realized when Skylar Diggins fell to the court clutching her right knee. The third year pro from Notre Dame was having an outstanding season and was one of the reasons why the Shock are one of the hotter teams in the WNBA this season.

On Monday the Shock announced that Diggins would miss the remainder of the 2015 WNBA season having torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee. That put her out of action and with Odyssey Sims on the IR with a knee injury, and Tiffany Jackson-Jones also sidelined, the Shock were facing a long road trip with a depleted roster.

The Shock traveled to Seattle for a rubber match with the Storm, and after handing them a 93-89 loss in the BOK Center, the Storm responded by handing Tulsa a 74-69 loss in their building.

Riquna Williams scored 23 points in Seattle for the Shock, and Courtney Paris had seven rebounds in a game that saw the Shock leap out to a 40-29 lead by intermission, but went cold in the game’s final 20 minutes and allowed Seattle to get back in the game and hand the Shock their first loss in a month’s time.

From there the Shock traveled to Phoenix to take on the Mercury and they got it handed to them 83-55. Brittney Griner had 13 points, eight rebounds and a season-high seven blocks, and Candice Dupree scored 16 points, and Monique Currie and DeWanna Bonner chipped in 11 each for the Mercury, who handed the Shock their first back-to-back loss since their franchise-record-tying eight game win streak.
Karima Christmas led the Shock with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Riquna Williams, who scored 23 points in the loss to Seattle on June 30, was held to seven points.
Then the depleted Shock traveled to the city of angels to take on the LA Sparks and they suffered their third loss in a row as Kristi Toliver set a franchise record with 43 points Friday night to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a 98-95 win. She topped a record originally set by Lisa Leslie (41) with two free throws in the game’s dying seconds.

Nneka Ogwumike added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

For Tulsa, the game started well as the Shock roared out to a 23-14 lead at the end of the first quarter using a 21-6 run and five three-pointers to gain the foothold. The Sparks rallied in the second quarter to knot the score at 42 at the half. Then Toliver came alive in the third and hit four three-point shots and led the Sparks to a 73-69 advantage by the end of the thrd

For the Shock, Riquna Williams had 22 points and Karima Christmas added 20. Rookie Jordan Hooper had a career-high 14 points with four 3s, but with Toliver guarding her on the final possession she didn’t get a touch.

Williams led the Shock back to within a point before Toliver sank her record breaking free pointed to edge the Shock by three at the final buzzer.

After that, the Shock winged it cross country to Atlanta for a taste of a team from the east, and the Shock have had a lot of luck against teams from the WNBA East this season thus far. The Shock pulled things together in Georgia and snapped their three-game losing streak by handing the Dream an 85-75 loss in Phillips Arena last Friday night.

Plenette Pierson, an 11-year veteran and a member of the Shock when they relocated to Tulsa in 2010, scored 24 points and went 10-of-14 from the field to help the Shock halt their losing streak at three. Riquna Williams added 23 points, going 18 for 20 at the free throw line, for Tulsa (9-4). Kiesel finished with 16 points and Courtney Paris grabbed 10 rebounds.

Atlanta’s standout was Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry scored 25 points, but missed 20 of her 28 shots for Atlanta (5-7). Sancho Lyttle recorded her third double-double in four games with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

From here, the Shock head back out on the road for two games, one on July 15th against the Indiana Fever and a July 17th contest with San Antonio.

The next home game for the Shock is next Sunday afternoon when they take on the Minnesota Lynx on July 19th beginning a four game home stand that continues on July 21st when the Washington Mystics make their first visit to Tulsa. After that, on July 30th Phoenix comes to town and on August 1st Minnesota returns to the BOK Center

Tickets for Sunday afternoon’s game and all of the remaining home games on the Shock schedule are available at the BOK Center Box Office or on wnba.com/shock.

Photos by Greg Duke, Tulsa Today.